Book(s) of the Week 20: The Next Fifty Things That Made The Modern Economy

27th May, 2020

Okay, this week I’m plugging my own brand new book, The Next Fifty Things That Made The Modern Economy. 

At least, a little bit. But I have some other books to tell you about too.

One of the joys of writing this book was to be able to pick up two or three wonderful books on each topic, learn all about the history and the characters involved, and then try to figure out how to use what I’d learned to tell a story with a particular lesson about how the economy works. In the case of the Langstroth Beehive, for example, I was able to talk about the Nobel laureate James Meade and his discussion of ‘positive externalities’, the long obsession of economists with bees, as well as the long-standing relationship between bees and humans.

Or when it came to the QWERTY keyboard I could discuss the raging controversy over the topic of ‘technological lock-in’, a crucial issue in the debate over how to regulate big tech companies – while at the same time puncturing some myths about the invention of the typewriter.

I loved writing this book and I hope you’ll love reading it. Click here for more information and links to buy from Hive, Amazon, Blackwell’s or Waterstones. (If you are reading in North America, sorry – only the previous book Fifty Inventions That Shaped The Modern Economy is available.)

Do please consider buying, gifting and/or reviewing the book. It’s not an easy time to be publishing a book – or to be a bookseller – and early support makes a big difference.

Now, I promised OTHER books. Here are some of the many, many books that I consulted while writing The Next Fifty Things and which stuck in my mind.

On Bricks: Brick: A World History by James Campbell and Will Pryce – gorgeous coffee-table photographs of brick structures from around the world.

On Beehives: The Hive by Bee Wilson. Quick, accessible history of the long and ever-changing relationship between humans and bees.

On Tulips: Tulipmania by Anne Goldgar (perfectly punctures the tulipmania myths) and Tulipomania by Mike Dash (further great stories and colourful details).

On GPS: PinPoint by Greg Milner, a book that will also be familiar to fans of Cautionary Tales.

On the ChatBot: The Most Human Human by Brian Christian. One of my favourite books of the decade.

On the Bicycle: The Mechanical Horse by Margaret Guroff. Full of telling social observations.

Lots of others that there is no time to discuss here – but the references tell all.

Stay safe, thanks for reading this post – and if you’ve decided to buy my book, thank you for that, too.


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